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Pediatricians screen for developmental dysplasia of the hip at a newborn’s first examination and at every well-baby checkup thereafter. When the condition is detected at birth, it can usually be corrected. But if the hip is not dislocated at birth, the condition may not be noticed until the child begins walking. At this time, treatment is more complicated and uncertain.
Developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH) is usually diagnosed by a physical exam. A medical history and other tests also may be useful in diagnosing DDH.
All babies are examined for DDH at birth. Newborns who have risk factors for DDH, such as having foot, knee or leg deformities, are examined very closely for the condition.
Your child's hips are also examined during regular well-child checkups. But a baby with DDH who is older than 1 to 3 months may have fewer visible signs, making it more difficult to detect. These babies may have only slightly less mobility or flexibility of the affected hip joint(s).
An orthopedic surgeon or a pediatric orthopedist usually confirms a diagnosis of and provides treatment for DDH. Your doctor will refer you to one of these specialists if he or she suspects your child has DDH.Imaging tests:
Tests that show images of the hip joint are often done to help diagnose DDH if results from physical exams are unclear. These tests are also used to monitor treatments for DDH.
Imaging tests used to diagnose and monitor DDH include:
- Ultrasound of the hip. This test provides the clearest images in babies younger than 5 months when the hip joints are still made of cartilage. Ultrasound can provide images to help a doctor see the subtle signs of DDH that often aren't detected during a physical exam.
- Hip X-rays. These tests are most useful after a child is 4 to 6 months old. Before this age, a baby's bones are too soft to show up well on an X-ray.
- CT scans. The doctor may use these tests to help see how well treatment is working.
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